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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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02:01:00

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mpeg2video

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Syria 68, U.s. 54, United States 21, U.n. 19, Us 19, Damascus 15, Russia 12, Nascar 12, Israel 11, Obama Administration 10, Nato 9, John Kerry 8, Hp 8, New York 8, Cnn 7, Washington 7, America 7, Iraq 7, Libya 7, At&t 6,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    August 26, 2013
    2:00 - 4:01pm PDT  

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songs shot to number five and number two on the itunes charts and 10 million people watched last night, up 66% from last year's show. who knew. >> i turn you over now to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." john, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news, the obama administration taking its strongest stance yet against syria. the secretary of state, john kerry, making it clear he has no doubt chemical weapons were used and there must be accountability. also, desperate efforts under way right now to save yosemite national park from an historic wildfire that's already scorched an area the size of chicago. and a rare interview with the oldest justice on the u.s. supreme court. why ruth bader ginsburg said this court is, quote, one of the most activist courts in history. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children, innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. >> jarring words by secretary of state john kerry. the white house says there is very little doubt the syrian regime is responsible for that attack and president obama is now evaluating how the united states plans to respond. it all comes on the same day u.n. inspectors, despite sniper fire, managed to visit one of the areas that was hit. those findings are also being reviewed. cnn national political correspondent jim accoosta is
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working story from the white house. what do you know, jim? >> reporter: as secretary of state john kerry made clear earlier this afternoon, the time for diplomacy may be running out. with strong signs pointing toward a looming military strike against syria, secretary of state john kerry issued a stinging indictment. >> what we saw in syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. it is undeniable. >> reporter: kerry flat out accused syria of slaughtering civilians with chemical weapons and then trying to cover it up, betraying a global moral code. >> this international norm cannot be violated without consequences. >> reporter: it was an unmistakable message that echoed from the state department to the white house. >> this violation has to be taken very seriously. >> reporter: ever since last week's suspected poison gas attack in syria, the obama administration has been consulting with allies and
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drawing up military actions to punish bashar al assad for crossing president obama's red line. tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at destroying command and control targets, as well as chemical weapon launchers. with russia on the u.n. security council and against a syria strike, the u.s. is consulting with nato partners and key allies. >> if there is any action taken, it will be in concert with the international community and within the framework of legal justification. >> reporter: there's no shortage of models for military action. from the nato-led air strikes against libya two years ago to kosovo in the 1990s. but just last month martin dempsey warned a strike on syria could get messy saying "should the regime's institutions collapse, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unlear the
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very chemical weapons we seek to control. colin powell urged cause. >> i am less sure of the resistance. is it becoming even more radicalized with more al qaeda coming in? and what would it look like if they prevailed and assad went? we don't know. >> i think it is fair to say as difficult as the problem is, this is something that is going to require america's attention and hopefully the entire international community. >> arizona senator john mccain said it's time to act. >> if the united states stands by and doesn't take very serious action, not just launching some cruise missiles, then, again, our credibility in the world is diminished even more if there's any left.
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>> reporter: as for consultations with congress from the white house, a senior administration official cautions once again the president has not made a decision on military action against syria, but house speaker john boehner's office complained earlier today that the white house had not been in touch with his office. then the speaker's office in the last hour reported to cnn and other news outlets that they had in fact received some kind of phone call from the white house but that phone call was not of much substance, according to an aide in the speaker's office. as secretary kerry said earlier this afternoon and as jay kacary said in the briefing this afternoon, there is nmore to come, not just from the secretary but the president. >> will they require or seek congressional resolution in the house before military action is used? >> the speaker's office did not say they'll seek that kind of action. we heard senator bob corker
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saying he would hope the president would seek that but during today's press briefing, white house press secretary jay carney was pressed on this very point and the law does through the war powers act give the president some latitude when it comes to military action. the president takes military action, he then has a 60-day timetable to kb back to congress if prks if there are u.s. forces in harm's way. but, wolf, air strikes may not necessarily rare that so this is sort of an open legal question that we'll probably see play out in the next several weeks if action is it and. the white house likes to stress if action is taken. >> key word "if." let's get some more analysis from our chief political analyst gloria borger and correspondent john king. how much u.s. credibility for the obama administration is on the line? >> a tremendous amount. this is a president who last spring said that there was a red line and that syria had crossed it, that assad had crossed it in
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terms of the use of chemical weapons. now the secretary of state has just come out, the president's spokesman has come out and made it very clear without any caveats that they believe that they have crossed the line again. so as president of the united states, you can't draw a red line in the sand and then suddenly move it. because there's a larger world stage here. what does that say to iran? what does that say to korea? if you draw the line, you've got to stick to what you said. in a way he's boxed himself in. >> past the point of no return, unless something dramatic happens, if assad steps down. if the secretary-general of the united nations said we need more time, it would be very hard for this president given his history. it's different being president. if you talk to people inside the administration and ut talk to the brits, the french, some of the other allied government, the president and secretary of state have reached out to, they think the clock here is a matter of
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days, not a matter of weeks. >> and it clear i think they've decided that given russia's position on this, what's the point of the united nations nations? i think they're going to look for some kind of nato endorsemeendorse me ment, go back to libya, for example. >> with libya, the dust have united nations security council resolution, the russians let that one go through. >> and the arab league. >> the arab league and nato. this is a very different situation. the u.s. does not have the u.n. security council but presumably china would veto a resolution as well. >> it has zero expectation it can get that support in the short term. might you be able to build that support over time, over weeks and months, maybe. the administration is not looking at that clock. they're looking at the arab league would be very significant as well. they want to have the brits, the french, the turks because of the
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proximity, those are nato allies and part of this is to send a strong message. when you hear the administration saying too late for the inspectors to go in. when you look at secretary kerry's language today, he says it's undeniable. he said the united states has proof and will share it in the next few days. as the united states makes this case around the world, some people are going to say what's your intelligence, how good is your intelligence. they are going to have to prove it but it's a moral obscenity. for an administration that for two plus years has stepped back, this language -- they think this is a very short fuse. >> some people are saying the president's allies on the left are going to get upset. if this is a humanitarian disaster, he might not have as much pumback on the left as you might think. senator mccain said just lobbing a few missiles is not going to
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do it and does not immediate the obligation that we have. >> a hundred thousand people have been killed in regular warfare with regular weapons over the last couple of years. >> syria is threatening this will blow up the region. this is a huge, huge test decision. >> except do we trust the rebels. that's the question, too. >> complicated situation. be sure to stay tuned. a special report, crisis in syria, that's just ahead. we'll go live to damascus. our fred pleitgen is one of the only journalists, western journalists, inside the country right now. we'll also speak with democratic senator jack reed of rhode island, a key member of the senate armed services committee, a our special report coming up at the top of the hour. when we come back, a national treasure now threatened by a wildfire of historic proportions just ahead.
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one official vows to do whatever it takes to protect yosemite national park. plus donald trump's real estate school now under attack. >> at trump university, we teach success. that's what it's all about, success. >> you're going to find out why new york's top prosecutor is now charging it's all a scam. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." nascar is about excitement. but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions of fans on social media can be a challenge. that's why we partnered with hp to build the new nascar fan and media engagement center. hp's technology helps us turn millions of tweets, posts and stories into real-time business insights that help nascar win with our fans.
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tuchman son the ground in california, where thousands of firefighters are desperately trying to get this fire under control. gary, what's the latest? >> wolf, one of the great national treasures in this country, yosemite national park, is threatened by this fire, which is one of the largest in history of the state of california. i'll tell you right away the good news and that is nobody has been killed and nobody seriously injured, but this fire is not contained. only 15% of it has been contained, that means 85% hasn't and it greatly concerns the firefighters on the scene. you're talking about 235 square miles. the near city of las vegas, nevada, this fire has burned more than one and a half times the area of las vegas, nevada. for earners, new york city, it has burned about two-thirds of new york, bronx, brooklyn, queens, staten island, two-thirds of new york city has been burned right on these
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grounds, right to the west of the national park right now. the northwestern park of yosemite, much of it has been burned but that is not where the tourists go. we just came back from a tour of the area where the fire is burning. this reminded me when i was in iceland covering the volcano that went off. it's completely agree in parts. you look up at the sky and look at the sun and it looks like a bright orange ball because you can't see anything else in front of you. we saw a camp ground that has been decimated by flames. it was obvious the people got out quickly because we still saw personal belongings on the ground, we saw cabins decimated, a swimming pool that had the children's toys in the pool, we saw a car incinerated right near that camp ground. we were scared because during the tsunami in japan when we were walking through and saw cars sadly and tragically, we
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saw bodies in those cars, that's still something i think about. luckily we went up to the car and saw nothing in the car. the situation is not under control. as i said, the good news, no firefighter, no civilian has been killed. >> let's hope it stays like that and they get this fire under control and do it very, very quickly. gary tuchman on the scene for us. >> other news we're following, the supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg making some serious waves with very candid and blunt remarks about the highest court. we'll talk about that with our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin, the author of "the oath", the obama white house and the supreme court and he's interviewed justice ginsburg. one of the things she says in this "new york times" interview, she says the roberts court is stunning in terms of activism. she says it's one of the most activist courts in history. were you surprised to hear her say that publicly? >> well, this is a change that
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justice ginsburg is going through in the last couple of years. she has become much more outspoken, much more the public leader of the liberal wing of the party. she's talking about the decision that struck down the key part of the voting rights act, she's talking about citizens united striking down the campaign finance law, mccain-fieingold. >> she certainly was blunt as far as that's concerned. she also made it clear that she wants to stay a united states supreme court justice. she says "as long as i can do the job full steam and that at my age is not predictable, i thought last year dias well as in past terms, i am now the most senior justice when we divide 5-4 with the usual suspects."
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>> this is a change. for many years she had said to me and others that she wanted to serve as long as justice brand i -- brandeis, one of her heros, and he left the court in '82. and i have heard her talking more recently about justice stevens, who served until he was 90. so she has moved the goalpost, she has moved when she plans to leave and that's just her health permitting, perhaps that's what she'll do. >> she said she doesn't ride horses anymore but she's still very active and her mind is in good shape and that's what she wants to do. on her lasting legacy, she says in this "new york times" interview she says i don't see that my majority opinions grg to be undone. i do hope that some of my dissents will one day be the
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law. what do you think about some of those dissents becoming the law? >> you tell me the answer to this question and i'll tell you if they become law. who is going to be the next president? is hillary clinton going to appoint the replacements for justice scalia and kennedy? then she does have a chance of seeing those dissents become law. if she is replaced by senator cruz, there's no way they're going to become majority decisions. it's all about politics. >> thanks very much to you, jeffrey toobin. good analysis. appreciate it very much. >> coming up, one of the largest dog fighting rings in u.s. history now busted. plus new york state versus donald trump. why is the attorney general of new york state suing the real estate tycoon?
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let's take a look at some of the other top stories in "the situation room." the treasury secretary jack lew is saying the united states will hit its debt limit in mid october. and will run out
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it's all a scam. that's coming up. es.
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happening now, the co-host of cnn's new "crossfire" are here and will debate what the president should dobout syria. and donald trump's new school, plus the jeanne moos on the vma
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awards. we're following the escalating crisis in series. a new vow from the obama administration today to hold the country accountable in the aftermath of an apparent poison gas attack. joining us, the co-hosts of "crossfire," stephanie cutter and s.e. cupp. >> do you think the president should take action? >> i think he should and i think he will. >> what do you want him to do? >> i'm not a military expert but i think that using chemical weapons has consequences and he's made clear that there will be consequence, they will be held accountable and we should see what happens. we're not in the situation room except for this particular situation room. >> we are in our situation room. >> let's wait to see --
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>> how much credibility does the president have right now? >> zero. absolutely zero. we are still today waiting to see what the president will do. it's been two years, over 100,000 dead. al qaeda has absolutely swept in to take advantage of this power vacuum. we've enabled hezbollah and russia and iran. this is a mess. the saddest part is it's a mess that foreign policy experts and analysts predicted two years ago. turkey has been begging for our intervention -- >> why isn't turkey intervening itself? for a very good reason. because they know if they intervene, there's no way for them to get out and they have unrest at home. the turkish people don't support intervention. we need to ask why our allies aren't intervening. >> the turkish -- >> one at a time. >> there's evidence that they used chemical weapons on a very
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large scale and i think that action is imminent. b when i say we have to wait to see what the president does, we are not in the situation room where we look at the intelligence. i have been there and i'm not going to second guess what the president is going to do because he is looking at the evidence and we're not. >> the president has changed his red line three times the first red line was moving or using chemical weapons around. the second was using chemical weapons. the third red line that we just heard in the interview with chris cuomo was using chemical weapons in a mass scale. the red lines have changed, the president has not acted on those red lines, we have no idea what he's going to do and, frankly, it might be too late. the time for surgical intervention with missile strikes and no-fly zones was early when the rebels numbered dozens. >> i find it incredibly
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interesting that people who don't know anything about national security don't listen to the generals and the people sitting in the room. general dempsey responded to a letter saying we can do a no-fly zone. it will cost $500 million to establish one, it will cost $1 billion a money and put american lives at risk. by the way, will it have any impact on the status quo on the ground? probably not. those are ground forces attacking the opposition, it's not air strikes. i think that facts here matter, talking points don't. >> i'm not inventing these arguments or concerns. two years ago i was writing about these concerns because i was listening to experts and analysts weighing in about the region and the global concerns of the region. these are concerns that anyone with any experience in foreign policy were to look and be able to predict. >> let's look at where we are now. >> instead the president has
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dithered for two years on this issue. >> now there's been broad scale evidence of a massive chemical attack. action seems imminent. there is an opportunity here to rally the world against the use of a weapon of mass destruction. if we go into syria, we're now going into syria with force and strength instead of going it alone. i think that matters. it doesn't just matter to me but it matters to the u.s. people. >> the u.s. now looks weak and ineffective, like we are out of options. that's swatting at flies and it has no long-term impact. >> what do you want the president to do? >> the president need as long-term, broad folk to us root out al qaeda. if the humanitarian aspect of this issue doesn't compel the american people, okay, i can accept that. if you aren't compelled by emboldening russia and iran and hezbollah, okay, i can buy that. but growing al qaeda threats all over the region, whether it's
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maghreb or middle east, you can't ignore that. >> so what exactly should we do? because if we go in there on our own and try to level the playing field to embolden the opposition, we don't know who we're putting in charge because it's not clear who is going to be put in charge. and then we own syria. now. >> right. >> and now we've been in afghanistan for 12, 13 years, in iraq for over a decade and now we're about to take ownership of syria and going in without knowing what your end game is is a dangerous proposition. >> it's too late. the argument you're laying out is absolutely right. we can't go in without a game plan. that's exactly what we're doing now. had we done this earlier, we could have solved what was a that wi small problem, now it's a massive problem. missile strikes are not going to bring an end to the problem in
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al qaeda. >> i suspect the president will do something, not exactly clear on what but obviously based on what we heard from the secretary of state, he's in a box, he's got to react, otherwise he will totally lose a lot of credibility. thanks very much. looking forward to the new show. >> thanks. >> just ahead, cnn's fred pleitgen, one of the few reporters on the ground in damascus, syria right now. we're going to the syrian capital. a "situation room" special, "crisis in syria" coming up at the top of the hour. and a $40 million lawsuit against donald trump. but first a "crossfire" classic. >> crossfire has played host to a number of gun control debates over the years. what's astonishing to me is how little has changed since then. this is wayne lapierre defending
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gun owners rights after a shooting in new york. >> that's all you can think of is more regulations on honest people. a million times a year honest people use a gun in this country to defend themselves against criminals the system will not control. there's no gun control law that would have stopped this guy in new york city. >> if we had a ban on this type of weapon -- >> you're going to say you're going to ban all gun, a million people a year -- >> we're going to ban the guns that allowed this guy to walk through and shoot one after another, 22 people in a few seconds. ingeniously uses radar to alert you to possible collision threats. and in certain situations it can apply the brakes.
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it's the state of new york versus donald trump in a lawsuit over one of the billionaire's latest business ventures. allis allison kosick has details. >> he's america's most famous billionaire. never one to shy away from the spotlight. now dump is grabbing headlines
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again in a bombshell lawsuit, accusing him of fraud. >> at trump university, we teach success. that's what it's all about. success. it's going to happen to you. >> but new york state's attorney general says that promise was empty for students at the real estate mogul's investment school trump university. the state wants $40 million for what it says the school wrongly took from people who attended classes. >> we're going to teach you about business, we're going to teach you better than the business schools are going to teach you. >> reporter: it alleges trump misled prospective students with a bait and switch. if they wanted to get rich, they'd have to pay $1,500 for a three-day workshop. once there, then came the push for a year-long course at $35,000. the lawsuit says instructors even urged students to call their credit card companies to increase their limits so they could sink even more money into classes, classes trump defended in a tweet saying there was a 98
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% approval rating of students for courses. another allegation says students were told trump would make an appearance during the seminars. instead they had their photo taken with a life-size picture of him. they wanted to be near donald trump. that was the biggest problem in terms of people being disappointed. trump is slamming the suit saying he thinks the suit is politically motivated. >> we had a 98% -- if you go to wharton or harvard, they don't have a 98 % approval rating. people love the school the school was terrific. we got sued for lots of different reasons, primarily to get publicity. >> coming up at the top of the hour, don't forget a cnn situation room special report, "crisis in syria." cnn is one of the few journalists on the ground in
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damascus. we're going live to the syrian capital. also, straight ahead a rising republican african-american star is about to weigh in on talk of dr. martin luther king's legacy. we'll also talk to him about some republican suggestion that perhaps the president of the united states should be impeached. i'll take that malibu. yeah excuse me. the equinox in atlantis blue is mine! i was here first. it's mine. i called about that one. it's mine. customers: [ echoing ] it's mine, mine, mine. it's mine! no it's not! it's mine! better get going. it's the chevy labor day sale. [ male announcer ] the chevy labor day sale. just announced: $500 labor day cash now through september 3rd on most 2013 chevrolet vehicles!
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president obama will speak at the lincoln memorial this wednesday mark, 50 years since martin luther king, jr.'s historic "i have a dream" speech. the republican party held a special luncheon today to mark the anniversary featuring the
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chairman reince priebus and some prominent african-american republicans. and t.w. shannon is joining us right now. he's the speaker of the house in oklahoma. may i call you mr. speaker? >> sure, wolf, you just call whatever you like. >> thank you very much. you're here in washington to honor dr. martin luther king, jr., the 50th anniversary of his "i have a dream" speech but did you it with the rnc in a special event. tell us what was going on. >> i think when you think about how the country has changed since 50 years ago when dr. king first gave his "i have a dream" speech, i think the rnc priebus's timing on commemorating that event was well worth it. we had people from all walks of life that came to the luncheon to participate, to recognize and not only were we honoring a man, but we were honoring an idea. frankly, people like me, a 35-year-old african-american enrolled member of the chick shaw nation from oklahoma gets to the speaker of the house, i like to think of myself as
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emboding the dream of the "have i a dream speech." >> why are you a republican? >> i think when you look at the history of the republican party, i think the ideology of the republican party is what's really going to change things around. you can look at the state of oklahoma, what we're doing in lowering taxes. you know, providing for a personal responsibility. those are the ways that you change things around. >> because you know the african-american community voted overwhelmingly for president obama last time in 2012. obama got 93% of the african-american vote. romney got 6%. what does the republican party need to do to bring in, to recruit more african-americans like yourself? >> first thing is show up. you've got to be there to make the message. you can't just show up on sunday morning the weekend before the election. you've got to be there. the chairman has done a great job of outlining a plan that i
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think will help republicans win in the next election. but you look at my election in 2006 when i first ran. i actually carried the african-american vote in my district, which is about 20% of the district and we did it by going door to door and establishing a relationship with everybody in the community. and sometimes that means going around the traditional community leader. >> what's the biggest misconception from your perspective that african-americans have about the republican party right now? >> i think solely that somehow the republican party is the party of old white men. but when you look around the country, former figures like j.c. watts or alan keys. you've got certainly a lot of african-americans, but you've got people from all walks of life. the party of lincoln is a party that is big enough for everybody. you don't have to believe what t.w. shannon believes to be a republican. >> the republican governor of louisiana bobby jindal, he wrote this. i'm going to put it up on the screen. "yet we still place far too much emphasis on our separateness,
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our heritage, ethnic background, etc. we live in the age of hyphenated americans. how about just american? that has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. placie ining undue emphasis on separateness is a step in the wro backward. bring back the melting pot." >> i think that's what the republican party is going to do this next election. >> what do you make of some of these murmurings from the few republicans -- not very many. even senator tom coburn from oklahoma suggesting maybe the president is getting close to high crimes and misdemeanors and should be impeached. >> there are very few times i disagree with dr. coburn. i think he's a great leader. >> he didn't say he should be. when he was asked about it, he said maybe he's getting close to that. >> i don't know the specifics of it, but certainly i think what we do know is we can't continue to wait for the federal government to lead in this country, wolf. if there's going to be reform in
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the country, i believe it's going to really happen in the halls of state governments. that's why the work that we're doing in state capitals around the 50 capitals in the country, that's where the real reform is going to happen. >> but this impeachment notion you think should be off the table? >> i think if the president has committed a crime, there should be an investigation -- >> do you think he has? >> i think that argument can be made. i'm not there on the front lines dealing with it every day, but i certainly trust dr. coburn's judgment. he says maybe perhaps it's time we explore the possibility. >> so you think he's right on that, maybe look at the president, high crimes and misdemeanors? is that something you really -- be precise on this. >> no president is above the law. i don't know if this president has committed a crime or not. but certainly, if he has, i think he should be held accountable like every other american. >> the speaker of the house in oklahoma, t.w. shannon. thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you for having me. at the top of the hour, a "situation room" special.
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crisis in czaisis in syria. we'll have a live report. but up next, geno. when we made our commitment to the gulf, bp had two big goals:
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of the lexus performance vehicles, including the gs and all-new is. ♪ this is the pursuit of perfection. shaq 1, pain 0. [ male announcer ] icy hot advanced patch with 50% more medicine. pain over. the mtv video music awards certainly known for outrageous performances over the years. but last night may have topped them all when miley cyrus, the 20-year-old pop star many came to know as "hannah montana," took the stage. here's jeanne moos. >> it was a crotch-grabbing, butt-slapping, tongue-winding,
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grinding performance, stored with legs, even if we can't show what miley cyrus was doing. never as one has one of those f fingers ever been so man handled? now everyone's pointing the finger at miley. >> the whole thing was cringe-worthy. a little desperate. >> trying so hard. >> just this stage of on-stage pornography. >> she was the target of tweets. just watch that miley cyrus teddy bear performance and i think i'm now legally required to put myself on some kind of registry. her look was mocked on youtube. thumbs up, thumbs down on the miley cyrus performance? >> oh, that foam finger. yeah, it was a little awkward. >> i think she's trying too hard to be sexy. >> trying to be way too old and too vulgar. >> when you sit there and watch with your granddaughter, who is 11 years old and you've got to be embarrassed.
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we looked at each other and went oh well. >> this is as close as we found to man on the street support. >> i'm in the middle. >> in the middle? very good. >> a bit much, but it's all right. >> everyone kept showing the photo of will smith's family agast, reacting to miley cyrus's performance. >> they can't believe what they're looking at. >> it turns out what they're looking at is lady gaga's performance, not miley's. and the person on the right was just scratching. miley's latex-clad bottom was compared to a chicken's. her look was compared to jim carrey's as a steroid using female bodybuilder. in reaction, miley tweeted out "my vma performance had 306,000 tweets per minute. that's more than the blackout or super bowl." to think five years ago the onion news network made this prediction. >> most experts agree at current
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usage levels, miley cyrus will be drained dry of entertainment value by 2013. >> reporter: well, it's now 2013, but we are still getting a lot of entertainment value out of this performance. >> be a little more classy. >> reporter: so miley, if you let your foam finger do the walking, try not to make it seem like street walking. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. happening now, breaking news. our special report, crisis in syria. the obama administration now says it's undeniable that chemical weapons were used in syria and it's weighing a military response. the most likely option, cruise missiles that can be filed from destroyers, now deployed in the mediterranean. we're going to show you what a u.s. strike could look like. and it's extremely rare for western reporters to make it into syria these days, but fred is there right now. we're going inside syria.
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we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room". with all the signs pointing to a horrific massacre, rows of bodies, u.n. inspectors today braved sniper fire to collect evidence of a chemical attack in syria. the obama administration now says it's clear, chemical weapons were used and maybe a step closer to taking military action. secretary of state john kerry today accused syria's regime of covering up a cowardly crime. >> let me be clear. the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. by any standard, it is inexcusable and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is
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undeniable. >> our correspondents are deployed in the middle east and beyond to bring you the latest developments. but let's begin with fred in damascus with a very rare look at the situation inside syria. what are you seeing, what's been the reaction there? >> the b >> reporter: the big order of business was that u.s. weapons inspectors were going out. the hotel came under mortar fire. there was one mortar that dropped only three block downs. once they did get going, their convoy came under sniper fire. one of their vehicles was disabled. however, they did say that on this first day, they were able to gather some very valuable information. let's have a look. six u.n. vehicles left central damascus in the morning, heading to the outskirts of the syrian
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capital. after several delays, the u.n. weapons inspectors are finally beginning their mission to the damascus suburbs to try get to the bottom of what happened there last wednesday. it's a mission where countries like the u.s. says it might already be too late to find conclusive evidence. but before reaching the areas allegedly hit by chemical weapons, their convoy came under fire from a sniper. the u.s. says the lead vehicle was disabled in the incident. >> despite such very dangerous circumstances, our team returned to damascus to carry on their investigation. they interviewed witnesses, survivors. they also collected some samples. >> reporter: videos released by the opposition show the u.n. team on the ground speaking to alleged victims of the attack in
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a field hospital in the district allegedly hit by weapons last wednesday. rebels blame the assad regime, saying more than 1,300 civilians died as a result of exposure to nerve gas. the regime has pointed the finger at rebels. while the investigators have a mandate to determine if chemical weapons were used, they don't have a mandate to determine who used them. the syrian government meanwhile continued heavily shelling the outskirts of damascus. plumes of smoke visible over the skyline of the capital. the u.s. says the heavy shelling should destroy possible evidence of chemical weapons used. the regime continues to deny its forces employed chemical agents and threaten retaliation should america intervene. >> if the united states wants to be fighting all the time, okay. they can do it. but syria will also resist any attack attacks. and answer any such criminal actions. >> reporter: after several hours
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gathering evidence, the weapons inspectors returned to central damascus from a difficult and dangerous mission that many say was delayed far too long. and wolf, the weapons inspectors said from the beginning that time is of the essence in this investigation. that's why they're going to be going out tomorrow again. we're not sure if they're going to be going to the same neighborhood that they visited today, the district in the southwest of damascus, or whether they'll try and get to one of the other sites. there are several in the area around damascus. we're waiting to see where exactly they're going to be trying to go. we're going to try to find more clues to see what's behind the attacks that happened here last wednesday. >> any immediate reaction to u.s. secretary of state john kerry, his strong words? among other things, as you said, fred, he said that he called the syrian foreign minister last week to complain, to protest these chemical weapons attacks, speaking with the foreign minister of syria. that's a pretty high level
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discussion between the u.s. and syria right now. >> reporter: that's high level discussion between those two countries, and also, considering there are no diplomatic between those two countries, that certainly is quite a statement by the secretary of state. there hasn't been any immediate reaction to kerry's remarks right now, but what has happened is the foreign minister of syria has called a press conference for 1:00 p.m. local time tomorrow, so we're going to wait and see what sort of reactions they're going to come forward with until then. what has been going on is that the assad regime has been make statements. the president himself gave an interview to a russian newspaper where he again reiterated that the syrians believe that all of this is fabricated. he said it would be "ludicrous to think that syrian forces would use chemical weapons on the front line where their own forces are stationed." but of course, we know the u.s. is not buying it, saying that there is evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were used and it really could only be the assad regime who used them.
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>> fred pleigten reporting from damascus for us. be careful over there. thanks very much. here in washington, the white house is weighing very carefully a military response to what's going on in syria, insisting all options right now are on the table. officials say the most likely option would be a cruise missile strike. u.s. warships are already deployed in the eastern mediterranean. joining us now, senator jack reed, democrat of rhode island. thanks very much for coming in. how close is the u.s. right now using military action in syria? >> we're getting closer every moment with secretary of state kerry's announcement this afternoon that there's undeniable evidence that this is a regime directed attack using chemical weapons. we are moving closer. the hope i have, though, is that we assemble such a coalition of european countries and nato allies and worldwide that that
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political pressure might be sufficient. but my sense is it probably will not, and that we might have to take further steps. >> by unilateral -- by the united states alone? >> i think unilateral action would be a mistake. i think we have to enlist all of the willing coalition. the statements by great britain, by france, by many others. the active statements of some of the turkish leaders suggest that they could be and would be supportive. but what the secretary has to do and the president is build his coalition -- >> including from the arab league? arab friends of the united states? >> i hope so. because without their participation, it looks as if this is just a western versus islamic struggle. it's not. it's basic international law that these weapons will not be used. >> putting together a coalition of the willing, if that's what you want to call it, that could take a while. and the sense i'm getting is that the u.s. would like to do
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something within the next few days. >> well, time is important, but doing it right is more important. and without this political cohesion, we won't be able not only to assemble the appropriate forces, but also over the long term to anticipate what the reaction might be from the syrians and others. we don't want to assume this one action will solve this dilemma. we have to take action to follow through, and that requires a cohesive political grouping, not just military action. >> so what kind of military options do you think are realistic, as far as the u.s. and nato and other countries are concerned? >> the most realistic option at this point would be launching cruise missiles from sea, either surfer ships or submarines. standoff air strikes. we could have precision weapons that could be fired and keep our aircraft out of syrian air space and away from their anti-aircraft systems. those are the most likely alternatives that should be contemplated. but i think first we have to
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deliver a strong international message that this behavior cannot be countenanced. second, we have to make it clear what our objective is, which is i think principally that these weapons will not be used and the syrians have to put them in a situation where they won't be used. and then we can work, i hope, on the diplomatic front to try to get some type of diplomatic traction with the overall issues in syria. >> what would the targets be? >> the targets -- that's what the military people will provide precise sort of advice to the president. the president has to choose now. i think you have to expect that they probably directed against command and control elements within syria. simply striking at an airfield and hoping that that symbolically will be enough, i don't think issed ed adequate planning. i think the most effective targets would have command and control. if you can send a signal to the syrian regime that if they don't
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agree to international standards, if they don't make it obvious that they're not going to use these weapons, that we can inflict additional damage. >> has the administration consulted with you and other members? >> they have not consulted with me. i presume they are beginning a process of consulting with many members. >> should congress pass a resolution authorizing the use of force before it is done? >> well, that gets into a very difficult issue you just brought up in terms of timing. if there is a strong coalition internationally, if we have precise objectives, and if we are also worried about a further use of chemical weapons, that might precipitate a response before congress can come back together. definitely congress has to be consulted. under the war powers act, they have to be notified. in libya, the president notified us but did not seek specific approval. congress should be a big part of this. we have to look not just at the first few days, but anticipate that these operations are always longer and harder.
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>> do you have any doubt about the intelligence? the secretary of state was firm, there is no doubt that the syrian regime of president bashar al assad deliberately used weapons against its own people. do you have any doubt about the accuracy of that intelligence? >> the intelligence seems to indicate very clearly that the regime was involved at the highest levels, that this was a conscious decision. again, it would be awfully helpful to us if that could be confirmed by the u.n. or by other inspectors, if there was clear evidence that it could be put on the table and it would be helpful in two ones. one, it makes our case much stronger, but second, it would undercut the arguments by the russians and the iranians that this was not the regime, these were the rebels. i think that would be very, very helpful. because the standard that we want to establish, it's irrespective of syria. it's that these weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons will not be used indiscriminately against
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civilians. that principle is the one we'd be involved in with defending. >> thanks very much for coming in. up next, what a u.s. military strike against syria could look like. we're going to map it out for you. also, as u.n. inspectors look for evidence, does the u.s. have a smoke gun right now? how much proof does it need to punish syria? i'll ask a former weapons inspector who investigated iraq's weapons program. la's known definitely for its traffic, congestion, for the smog. but there are a lot of people that do ride the bus. and now that the buses are running on natural gas, they don't throw out as much pollution into the air. so i feel good. i feel like i'm doing my part to help out the environment. ♪ honey, we need to talk. we do?
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talk to your doctor about all your symptoms. get the blood tests. change your number. turn it up. androgel 1.62%. if the united states pulls the trigger and acts to punish syria, what type of military action could we expect to see from the obama administration? tom foreman is here with a closer look. what are you seeing over there, tom? >> wolf, one of the things we know at this point is there probably would not be a closing of all the air space. there won't be boots on the ground. they've ruled that out. the focus seems to be largely on the idea that some destroyers here in the gulf, four of them, each capable of carrying 100 tomahawk cruise missiles, would come in and target certain places around the country. the missiles have a tremendous range. they can be 500 miles from the shore if they want to and still send in missiles that would fly over nothing but syrian air space. it's normally launched from ships or submarines.
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about 3,300 pounds. pinpoint targeting. it can be fired with preset targets or it can be changed in flight. they can decide if they want to send it to a different target. they can fly around and use nose-mounted cameras to even look at their targets before t hitting. about a thousand-pound payload. they've been proven very effective, simply because they can fly around for quite a while before they're dropped in on their target. very hard to track, very hard to stop. what would the goals be? the goals would be limited, if you listen to what the white house has been saying so far. take out the chemical weapons to a degree, even military leaders say we don't really know where they all are. they're moving around. this would probably not be something that could wipe out their whole capability. but they might be able to attack the commanding control structure, make it harder to deploy such weapons. it would weaken the al assad military, and would send a message, which is important to
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the white house and to much of the world. these types of weapons will not be tolerated. >> so with all these resources already in the eastern mediterranean, four warships, probably a submarine or two as well, why can't the u.s. make a move now if it wanted to? >> well, that comes back to the political question. really the international political question. if you look at the united nations, you essentially have russia, china, and iran out here, saying they would not tolerate this. they're going to fight against any kind of u.n. decision to take this action against syria, so the united states has to look at putting together some kind of other coalition. that may focus somewhat on nato allies. there's been a lot of talk about that. and some of those that seem to be coming onboard are nato allies. but the bottom line is the reason it's not being done right now appears to be the white house has deep concern about having some credibility in all of this. making sure that there are enough partners in a global sense agreeing that this is the thing to do, that it doesn't look like just the united states
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striking, even if they want to make it a surgical strike that only hits one part of the assad regime. wolf? >> sending a message, clearly the u.s. officials believe that would be significant. thanks very much, tom foreman, for that report. the obama administration says it's clear chemical weapons were, in fact, used on a mass scale in recent days in syria. does that mean the united states now has the smoking gun it needs to take military action? joining us now is charles dulfer, a former chief u.n. weapons inspector in iraq and a top cia official. later led the u.s. investigation into iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. charles, thanks very much for coming in. >> good to see you, wolf. >> let's talk a little bit about what these u.n. weapons inspectors who are in damascus right now -- when they went out to the site of this chemical attack, what are they looking for? what kind of evidence? >> they're looking for evidence from the witnesses, looking for evidence from the victims. they'll take samples, sample which is they can analyze at
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laboratories when they send them back. they'll be looking for remnants of the munitions, which could be sophisticated munitions that a military would have, or if it turns out unexpectedly to be the case that the insurgents had cobbled together some sort of cw capability, maybe they'll find that. there's a mix of thing ths theyn find. >> the foreign minister insists it was the rebels, not the regime of president bashar al assad. >> he spent five years as the russian ambassador to the u.n. during the height of the iraqi debate. so he knows thousand pl s how t security council. he knows how to play that game. and sustain ambiguity. >> he keeps warning the u.s. was wrong with wmds in iraq. he keeps playing that as well. listen to john kerry.
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he made this point today about the u.n. weapons inspectors. >> the u.n. investigation will not determine who used these chemical weapons. only whether such weapons were used. a judgment that is already clear to the world. >> now, explain what he's talking about. why can't the u.n. weapons inspectors determine who actually used these chemical weapons? >> technically, their mandate, as given to them by the secretary-general, was that they are only meant to establish technically whether chemical weapons are used. the attribution who did it is not part of their mandate. here again, this is a case where the weapons inspectors are being put into the middle of a very hot political caldron. now the obama administration is in a position somewhat like the bush administration was, where they were kind of teed up and ready to go millitarily, or so
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it appeared, when the u.n. is going in and now may be seen as a bit of a disrupting influence in that. washington will be seen as going preemptively if they don't wait for the u.n. process to play out. you hear secretary kerry saying we've already got the information we need. we've got a conclusion. >> but the weapons inspectors, they can determine who actually launched these kinds of chemical weapons. but what you're saying is for political reasons, the united nations has told these weapons inspectors we don't want you to check that, just tell us if they were used? that sounds so absurd. >> it is, but it's not quite that simple. because of the legal status that they're operating under. when the iraqis' inspections were being done, it was under a security council resolution, which mandated that they look for exactly those questions. the technical legal authorization for them is somewhat different in this case. >> and when the secretary says after five days that whole area can be contaminated, you can't determine anything, it's too
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late now. but the u.s. knows for sure that the regime did it. you buy that? >> no. the weapons inspector can find out a lot. they were going there originally even to investigate attacks which took place months ago. they can find out a lot of very interesting information. i agree that the united states has other sources. presumably, the national security agency can listen to people besides the united states, so they may have data which the weapons inspectors may not have and they may be quite convince fing in the united sta. but the weapons inspectors provide credibility across the board. when they say something, presumably all countries will say okay, we can accept that, they don't have a dog in that fight. >> we'll see what the report is to new york, to the united nations, and we'll see what the obama administration does. thanks very much for coming in, a former u.n. weapons inspector. up next, russia is warning against any u.s. strike. we're going to go to moscow for the latest. also, how would the damascus regime respond to a u.s.
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military strike? i'll ask a leading expert on syria. that's coming up. nascar is about excitement. but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions of fans on social media can be a challenge. that's why we partnered with hp to build the new nascar fan and media engagement center. hp's technology helps us turn millions of tweets, posts and stories into real-time business insights that help nascar win with our fans.
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welcome back to our special report "crisis in syria." happening now, the crisis sparking growing fear and diplomatic drama in neighboring jordan, where u.s. military lead rers now meeting with other middle east allies and beyond. cnn's global resources are on the story. also, syria experts, a look at what happens next in the wake of that apparent chemical weapons attack. and a u.s. soldier is honored not only for his heroism in afghanistan, but his honesty about what followed. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." inexcusable, undeniable, and a moral obscenity. remarkably strong language from secretary of state john kerry today talking about syria's apparent chemical weapons attack on its own citizens last week. the tough new tone is raising concern about a possible u.s. military intervention in the country's two and a
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half-year-old civil war. and the developments are ratcheting up tension in capitals around the region and the world. cnn correspondents are working the story in russia, jordan, and israel. let's begin with phil black in moscow. >> reporter: despite the allegations of a large-scale chemical weapons attack, russia's position on the possibility of military intervention in syria hasn't changed. nor has its message to the united states and its allies. don't even think about it. russia's foreign minister says there's not enough evidence to blame the syrian government for this attack, and says there's actually substantial evidence and a lot of common sense suggesting syrian opposition forces were responsible, and he's also cast doubt on the authenticity of some of those videos which appeared online claiming to show the aftermath of the chemical weapons attack. he says he believes some of them were up loaded hours before the attack took place. the russian government says the opposition force's motivation for carrying out such an attack
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against the syrian people would be to scuffle any chance of the peace process. russia, the united states, other parties have been working together to hold a big international conference that would hopefully settle the conflict in syria diplomatically once and for all. russia says it doesn't believe the opposition wants that conference to take place and would prefer to fight for an outright military result. russia compares the possibility of any military strike in syria to america's earlier wars in iraq and libya and says just like those conflicts, this one would be illegal. it would destabilize the country and the region. wolf? >> phil black in moscow. the escalating conflict has jordan in a very vulnerable position. nick robertson is in amman. his report contains some very disturbing images. >> reporter: wolf, jordan's position has been very clear. they say they want a diplomatic solution.
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indeed, when you look at their position right now over these military meetings that are going on here involving saudi arabia, the united states, qatar, turkey, britain, france, germany, italy, it is really to play down the profile of this meeting. it doesn't want to be perceived as hosting a meeting where there's going to be a decision over intervention in syria based on these alleged chemical att k attacks. gordon feels that would put them in potentially a very dangerous situation, missile strikes, potentially chemical missile strikes, even from syria would be one of their concerns. terrorist strikes as well precipitated by the assad regime would be another one of their concerns. it is pretty much an open skreet here that there is weapons smuggling into the hands of syrian rebels going on. saudi arabia says it's supplying weapons. the jordanian government's position is that it's doing everything it can to stop the smuggling across the border. that it doesn't want to aid and
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inflame the military situation, if you will, inside of syria. jordan really at the moment feels vulnerable for many reasons, buffetted by what's being going on with the arab spring. all these things make jordan a little less stable than it used to be. it's trying to stay out of trouble, wolf. >> nic robertson, thank you. israel is warning that if syria is able to get away with a chemical weapons attack, its enemies will be emboldened. jim clancy is in jerusalem and he's getting israeli reaction. >> reporter: wolf, israel has long been concerned about syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, but before last week, was more concerned they might be transferred to syria's ally and israel's arch enemy hezbollah. the iranian backed militant group based in lebanon has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at the jewish state.
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but the alleged use of chemical weapons and the mass casualties caused has raised alarm bells. prime minister netanyahu declared that both iran and hezbollah are right now watching. what will be the world's response if it's proved that the chemical arms were employed by the regime? he describes syria as a testing ground and warned it was ample evidence we can't allow the world's most dangerous regimes to acquire the world's most dangerous weapons. israel will not be the one to intervene in syria in this case. but it's not coy about its hopes that washington and the europeans will send a strong message, and not just in writing. wolf? >> jim clancy in jerusalem for us. thank you. the most recent american military intervention came in libya back in march of 2011. working with nato allies to establish a no-fly zone and protect libyan rebels and civilians, the u.s. fired about 200 tomahawk cruise missiles, mainly aimed at destroys moammar
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gadhafi's air defense system. each of those missiles has a production unit cost of about half a million dollars, but the real price tag for each missile about $1.4 million. that comes out to just north of a quarter of a billion dollars for those cruise missiles that were fired. the united states also flew hundreds of aircraft over libya. lost an f-15 jet fighter during the operation. the crew, fortunately, survived. while the missiles are fired from long distances off the shore, offshore, the use of manned aircraft would certainly bring the risk of american casualties if the u.s. were to get so involved in syria. that would be the unlikeliest option, putting u.s. boots on the ground in syria. of course, that would make casualties a near certainty. up next on our special report "crisis in syria," how would bashar al assad handle a u.s. military strike? i'll ask someone who knows the syrian leader. plus, one-time u.s. ally
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welcome back to our special report. as the obama administration weighs its option, syria is warning the united states it will resist any military action. joining us now, cnn senior international correspondent nick paton walsh. also joining us, andrew tabler, an expert on syria at the washington institute for middle east policies. also spent a lot of time in syria. like seven years living there. how is assad likely to respond to this very brutal blunt warning today from the secretary of state? >> we can already tell from his own words, he's going to blame everything on a conspiracy of israel and the united states and what he's going to do is also say that this is america's vietnam, that it's just like iraq. even though the situation is completely different. and then after that, he's probably going to go on the diplomatic offensive with his
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allies and try and wrap this all up, he hopes diplomatically. >> nick, if the u.s. together with some allies, maybe support of turkey, maybe some of the arab countries does launch military air strikes against targets in syria, what's likely to happen? you've spent a lot of time in the region. >> well, the region is really on a knife edge in many ways. lebanon, for example, i think the key place you'll see full-out, that's already barely holding its together because of the sectarian violence there has spilt over. already a million syrians in a population that was originally just four million. the key question, as andrew says, it's likely they'll blame the u.s. and israel. they're already trying to suggest that the syrian rebels they're fighting are somehow working with jerusalem. you'll have to watch hezbollah. what's their move going to be? they've been very open how they're fighting on the side of
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the bashar al assad regime. they've historically always said their goal has been resistance against israel, and that's somewhat corrupted in the eyes of some because of the fact that they're now involved in an in r inter-arab conflict. do they launch a secondary offense against israel to try and galvanize people and become a lightning rod for arab decent across the region. they're a way of injecting potentially one of the most complex and polarizing issues, the existence of the united states and israel again. >> andrew, do you have any doubt about the u.s. intelligence assessment that he did use chemical weapons on a massive scale in recent days? >> no, i don't. based on the evidence we have coming out, i think secretary kerry outlined this. i think that the regime did use chemical weapons. >> why would he do that? he would know the world was
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going to find out. >> bashar al assad has always been like this, a very unpredictable character. the obama administration laid down this red line a year ago. i think he thought he could push the envelope again. and that he could actually show his own people that no one is going to come to their rescue. i think in the case of president obama, at least so far, assad calculated incorrectly. >> what would happen if the u.s. does launch air strikes, am t s tomahawk air missiles. >> i think that already they're so involved in the conflict, that it will cause them to then get more deeply involved. but actually, what will that involve? will it involve more assets on the ground? probably not. they can't go that much further into syria. iran could step up their assistance financially and with the irgc. we'll have to watch and wait. but this conflict overall is not getting any better. this is just going to be one
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chapter in a very long struggle we have in syria. >> nick, a lot of u.s. officials, as recently as a few hours ago, they're still really worried that the opposition, the rebels, that there's a huge al qaeda presence that seems to be growing. these are no great friends of the united states or other allies in the region. certainly they hate israel as much as bashar al assad probably does as well. if the u.s. does get involved, isn't there a risk of bolstering al qaeda in syria? >> that's the major issue they face here. i think too harsh a military response will perversely almost be something that they will need at this particular time, because the people poised to take advantage of that are the radical islamists within the syrian rebel movement, the islamic states of iraq in syria. so many i think concerned to be sure that whatever they do sends an adequate message to damascus, punished for the use of chemical weapons, but doesn't change facts on the battlefield quite so harshly. that's the predicament, that no
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matter what the u.s. does, there's no real good outcome it can hope for at this stage. >> nick paton walsh, thanks very much. andrew tabler, thanks very much for coming in. up next, a one-time u.s. ally used chemical weapons during a brutal war in the 1980s. did american officials know about it then? does that undercut american outrage now? what was iraq doing under saddam hussein? stand by. i'm a careful investor. when you do what i do, you think about risk. i don't like the ups and downs of the market, but i can't just sit on my cash. i want to be prepared for the long haul. ishares minimum volatility etfs. investments designed for a smoother ride. find out why 9 out of 10 large professional investors choose ishares for their etfs. ishares by blackrock. call 1-800-ishares for a prospectus, which includes investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. read and consider it carefully before investing. risk includes possible loss of principal. peace of mind is important when so we provide it services you bucan rely on.
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may be hard to imagine, but the united states once supported san diego's iraq and its brutal war with iran. while the u.s. now weighs military action against syria, there are new details emerging about the use of chemical weapons by saddam hussein's iraq. brian todd reports. >> reporter: america's outrage over the alleged syrian atrocity goes right to the top. >> it is very troublesome. >> reporter: but at one time, a key u.s. ally used chemical weapons on the battlefield. in the 190s, saddam hussein got support from u.s. intelligence in his war against iran. specifically help in pinpointing iranian positions. according to a new report in foreign policy magazine,
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saddam's forces fired shells containing nerve agents on iranian troops in a key series of battles in southern iraq in 1988. retired air force 1988. retired air force colonel, a u.s. military liaison to iraq at the time says the foreign policy article got it wrong quoting him saying that u.s. officials new in advance that saddam was going to do that. >> we did not know that the i a iraqis were going to use in advance. >> reporter: he said he didn't know until he found the invectors he said the this iranians used. he said he confronted his iraq counter parts. >> what was their response? >> their answer was we used a lot of smoke. maisch they were confuse which is, you know, just a deflective answer. >> reporter: but did other u.s. facials noa head of time saddam would eyes chemical weapons against the iranians? neither the cia nor the defense
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'intelligence agency would comment. william webster, cia director at the time of the battles told me the agency knew saddam had chemical weapons. knew he could use them. but had no specific knowledge beforehand that he would fire them. still questions of an manner connection don't end there. according to this report by the center for non-proliferation studies five years ago out of this office in washington, more than 20 companies including some from the u.s., sent hundreds of tons to the iraq regimes in the 1980s but it's not cheer if they knew the regimes were getting the materials. >> this chem weapon's expert says the companies believed the chemicals were not being used in war. >> at the time, the companies were told that the chemicals were going to textile production in belgium. >> reporter: but why did u.s. support for saddam hussein continue even after he used chemical weapons? >> weigh felt we had no choice
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but to weaken the ayatollah and the extremist iranian regime at the time but it was a pretty regrettable way to carry out the policy. >> we contacted foreign policy magazine for a response to the claim that rick was misquoted saying u.s. officials new beforehand saddam hussein sbaended to use the chemical weapons in the 1988 battles but a senior editor said they stand by the accuracy of their reporting and says they have documentation saying u.s. officials knew before the battles previously that saddam hussein had previously used chemical weapons and, therefore, had the will to use them again. wolf? >> that's a little different than what apparently is in the article. everybody knew he had chemical weapons but did the united states know specifically that saddam hussein was going to eyes chemical weapons against the iranians or the kurds? >> this gentlemen, rick francona said he's misquoted when foreign policy said he said americans
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knew before the battle saddam was using the weapons. foreign policy said we have documentation that the americans knew as far as back at 1948 that saddam hussein had the weapons and he used them in other battles and he had the will to use them again, there may be a misunderstanding of the communication in timelines but they stand behind their statements. we'll be right back. more of this special coming up. so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do. we've added cutting-edge technology, like a new deepwater well cap and a state-of-the-art monitoring center, where experts watch over all drilling activity twenty-four-seven. and we're sharing what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely. our commitment has never been stronger. like carpools... polly wants to know if we can pick her up. yeah, we can make room. yeah. [ male announcer ] ...office space. yes, we're loving this communal seating. it's great. [ male announcer ] the best thing to share? a data plan.
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a rare metal of honor award. here's jake tapper. >> reporter: when president obama presented the medal of honor to staff sergeant tye carter he not only heralded his on the battlefield -- >> it was chaos. the blizzard of bullets and steel into which tye ran, not once or twice or even a few times, but, perhaps, ten times and in doing so, he displayed the essence of true heroism. >> reporter: he pointed out carter made it its mission to e destigmatize the post traumatic stress that so many veterans deal with. >> he's speaken eloquently about his struggle with post traumatic stress. >> reporter: carter was once a
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skeptic of what he calls pts and he doesn't want the "d" he says it's not a disorder. >> i didn't believe it was real until i experienced it. i thought it was an excuse to get out of duty or not do a job. once it hit me and i realized it, i was blown away. how could i be so ignorant? >> reporter: no longer. during the battle at combat outpost an rpg explosion caused him to lose some hearing. >> ever since that day i had high-pimped ringing in my ears. >> reporter: and the constant ringing in his head brings him back to the battle. since he left the outpost he received regular treatment for post traumatic stress, a treatment allowing him to continue his career path in the army. someone not so fortunate was a battle buddy, this private that suffer prd both post traumatic stress and a drug problem and was discharged from the army a few months after this battle. when he returned to his parent's home in burlington, north
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carolina, his post traumatic stress got severe and he stayed umm late watching videos of this attack. not a year after the attack, he overdosed on 'methadone and xanax. no evidence of suicide, but either way, friends felt his death was a result of his horror of his time in battle. >> i believe that he was the ninth victim of combat outpost keating and i believe that he won't be the last. >> any of our troops or veterans who are watching and struggling, look at this man. look at this soldier. look at this warrior. he's as tough as they come and if he can find the courage and strength to not only seek help but to speak out and take care of himself and stay strong, then so can you. >> do you think that the pentagon and our society, america, understand what a crisis this is for hundreds of thousands of troops? >> i think the army understands.
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the problem is that getting help has to start with the soldier. >> jake tapper, cnn, washington. >> a moving story indeed. that's it for me. thanks for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next. moves closer to war, u.s. officials telling cnn that navy destroyers could execute a mission in syria within hours of the president's orders. and an exclusive update on the three women held captive for a decade in cleveland's house of horrors and why the city is demolishing even more homes around the house today. and a massive wild fiern continues to burn out west. san francisco's water and power supply now being threatened. let's go outfront.

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